Good morning all,
We welcome in a new month and a new season and it's just 15-days from the start of the Cheltenham Festival. I’m now fully zoned in on the biggest four days in jumps racing. For the next two weeks. I am going to indulge myself by going through a couple of Cheltenham Festival races each day. Hopefully, there are a few winners to be found in my previews.
By now we should have seen all next months Cheltenham winners. And Saturday was realistically the last chance for contenders to emerge for the festival.
Did we see any?
Inside today’s main piece I look back at Saturday’s action from Kempton. Plus, I have a selection from Ayr.
Apart from the odd big Saturday handicap we have now definitely entered a “pre- Cheltenham” fallow phase. That said, Saturday’s fare produced several highlights.
King of the Triumph
Tritonic was bidding to give Alan King a fifth win in the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle. A smart performer on the flat (OR 99). He followed up his hurdle debut success at Ascot with an impressive win on Saturday.
The gallop was a strong one from the off which bought Tritonic’s stamina into play when it mattered. Taking it up coming to the last, he showed a good turn off foot on the run to go clear of Casa Loupi. The winner had just got up to beat an enterprisingly ridden Casa Loupi at Ascot and beat that one more comprehensively than he had done last time.
The Irish had seemed to have a stranglehold on the Triumph Hurdle betting before Saturday. However, Tritonic’s success in the Adonis means the home team now have a genuine contender for the juvenile crown. With the winner now a best priced 7/2 for the Triumph Hurdle. It looks like it’s going to be a cracker of a race.
Pasa Doble will have gone into plenty of notebook’s after his effort in third, having his first since joining Paul Nicholls and his first start over hurdles. Thrown into the deep, not unsurprisingly he lacked experience in the early stages of the race. However, he made steady headway from off the pace into third after the second last and was closing-down the runner-up all the way to the line. He’s got a big future in the sphere, likely over further.
The Eider Chase is the now third longest race in the NH calendar. Yet it still managed to produce the finish of the day.
Springfield Fox took them along from the start. The first time cheekpieces and getting out in the lead saw him run well for a long way. A mistake five out put him on the back foot and he was headed coming to three out by Sams Adventure, with 2019 winner Crosspark and the quietly ridden Crossley Tender all in with a chance.
Crosspark’s big weight took its toll and he faded out of it coming to the second last and was quickly pulled up. After the race he was treated for post-race stress.
That left Sams Adventure and Crossley Tender to fight out a thrilling finish. Coming to the last it looked like Crossley Tender was coming to win his race. Sams Adventure got in tight to the last and the eventual runner-up got upsides the winner. They slugged it like a pair of heavy weight boxers all the way to the line but to his credit Sams Adventure, briefly headed, showed tremendous resolution to win.
Clondaw Castle had been expected to improve for the step up to 3m in the Grade 3 Close Brothers Handicap Chase at Kempton and so it proved.
Richard Johnson set a 2m pace on the front running Mellow Ben. You don’t often see 3m chases run at such a speed and by halfway most of the field were taken out of their comfort zone. It was a pace that the leader couldn’t sustain and he was headed five out. Despite the strong early pace. Not many got into the race from behind.
The first-time blinkers perked up Kempton specialist Erik Le Rouge. Always in a handy position he took it up from the weakening Mellow Ben. After four out he went for home but was headed two out by the eventual winner. Clondaw Castle had picked off his rivals one by one and any stamina doubts surrounding him were put to bed. As the 9-year-old strode clear and stayed on well to win by two lengths from Erik Le Rouge in second.
Last year winner Mister Malarky bounced back from a poor run in the Sky Bet chase to finish an honourable third. Once again he showed he’s a much better horse going right-handed.
Romain De Senam also ran well in fourth. His jumping has improved since joining Dan Skelton but he was just found out by a strongly run 3m and the 10lb rise he got for winning at Musselburgh.
Race favourite Southfield Stone was still in with some sort of chance when falling four out and suffered a fatal injury.
Clondaw Castle is class act. Hopefully, connections will give Cheltenham a miss and wait for Aintree.
In tomorrow’s column I will be looking at how my Cheltenham Festival ante post portfolio has matured.
4:40 – Skyhill was well placed last season to land a four timer. The last of those wins came over C&D on soft ground, off 2lb lower. Best effort this season came when finishing 3rd of 11 over hurdles at Kelso 10-days ago. The 8-year-old is getting back to a mark he can win off and can go well here.
Skyhill – 7/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes
Good luck with your Monday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk